"Learning to live with cancer is an art, not a
science. Each person must find his
own way in his own style. What is important to realize is that a way can be found
regardless of the circumstances and prospects....."
Jane E. Brody, author of "You Can Fight Cancer and Win"
Ovarian cancer has a powerful and lasting impact on patients, family, and loved ones. There are both complex physical and emotional challenges involved with the onset of this disease. In addition to having to deal with the cancer itself-- a condition that invokes images of pain, suffering, and death-- women with ovarian cancer also have to deal with the psychological impacts of facing a disease of the reproductive organs. It is the ovaries, with their hormones and eggs, that define feminity and fertility. Removal of the ovaries prevents conceiving, and if the patient is not already menapausal, leads to instantaneous menapause with all its potential mood swings, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, reduced sex drive, and loss of fertility. Many will also have to deal with the impact of a poor prognosis. 76% of all cases of ovarian cancer are found after the cancer has spread beyond the ovaries. In addition, fewer than 20 % of women diagnosed survive for 5 years. All of these factors often lead to anxiety, depression, and loss of hope. The following survival stories, tips for daily living, and links to support groups are designed to help those effected realize that you are not alone in their struggle. If you have been diaagnosed with ovarian cancer, you need to know that what you are feeling is normal and that there is help available.Judy Morris
The story of:
Jo Ann Schmitz
Tips for Daily Living
The following tips come from the experiences of survivors in the American Cancer Society's "I Can Cope" program. They are adapted from ideas appearing in a book, I Can Cope-Staying Healthy With Cancer, coauthored by the program's cofounder, Judi Johnson.
- Be kind to yourself. Instead of telling yourself you can't do something you should do, focus on what you can do and what you want to do. Instead of telling yourself you look awful, think of ways to make the most of your best features.
- Help others. Reaching out to someone else can reduce the stress caused by brooding.
- Don't be afraid to say no. Polite but firm refusals help you stay in control of your life.
- Talk about your concerns. It's the best way to release them.
- Learn to pace yourself. Stop before you get tired.
- Give in sometimes. Not every argument is worth winning.
- Get enough exercise. It's a great way to get rid of tension and aggression in a positive way.
- Take time for activities you enjoy, whether it's a hobby, club, or special project.
- Take one thing at a time. If you're feeling overwhelmed, divide your list into manageable parts.
- Set priorities. Don't try to be Superman or Superwoman.
- Solve problems like an expert. First, identify the problem and write it down, so it's clear in your mind. Second, list your options with the pros and cons of each. Third, choose a plan. Fourth, list the steps to accomplish it. Then give yourself a deadline and act. Sometimes just having a plan can reduce the stress of the problem.
- Eat properly.
- Get enough sleep.
- Laugh at least once a day.
To find out about support groups in your area:
Contact Your local Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.
Contact Your local office of the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345.
Contact Your hospital social services department.